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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The King Country (Māori:Te Rohe Pōtae) is a region of the western North Island of New Zealand. It extends approximately from the Kawhia Harbour and the town of Otorohanga in the north to the upper reaches of the Whanganui River in the south, and from the Hauhungaroa and Rangitoto Ranges in the east to near the Tasman Sea in the west. It comprises hill country, large parts of which are forested.

The term King Country dates from the New Zealand Land Wars of the 1860s when colonial forces invaded the Waikato and Māori forces of the King Movement withdrew to the south.



The King Country per se is not an entity in local government. It forms part of two local government Regions, Waikato and Manawatu-Wanganui, and all or part of four districts: Otorohanga, Ruapehu, Taupo and Waitomo.


The King Country is comprised largely of rolling hill country, including the Rangitoto and Hauhungaroa Ranges. It includes extensive Karst regions, producing such features as the Waitomo Caves.

The area is largely rural and sparsely settled, with no cities or large towns. The most significant townships are the rural service centres of Te Kuiti (in the north) and Taumarunui (in the south).


Sport Team's Colours


The King Country has produced several notable rugby union players who became All Blacks: Bill Phillips, John McLean, Ron Bryers, Colin Meads, Stan Meads and Graham Whiting.


The greater part of the region's economy is involved in farming (especially pastoral farming) and forestry, with some supporting services. There are some areas of tourist significance, such as Waitomo. The King Country also contains areas of conservation estate, especially Pureora Forest Park.


Prior to European settlement, the area was occupied by various Māori iwi, especially Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Tama, and Ngati Tuwharetoa. During the Land Wars the British colonial Government invaded the Waikato region with Imperial and colonial troops. The King Movement, led by the Māori King Tawhiao, withdrew southwards from the Waikato, eventually settling in the King Country and giving it its Pākehā name.

At this time, it also received its old Māori name, Rohepotae. This name translates as "Area of the Hat", and is said to have originated when Tawhiao put his white top hat on a large map of the North Island and declared that all land covered by the hat would be under his mana (or authority).

In the aftermath of the invasion, the colonial government, having confiscated much of the best land in the fertile Waikato valley, was content to leave the King Movement alone. The King Country, mountainous and poor, was not a very attractive conquest, and the thought of fighting the relatively skillful Māori in a mountainous region over long and increasingly tenuous supply lines from Auckland can not have appealed to the British commanders. Tawhiao and his followers were able to maintain a sort of "Government in exile" and a refuge for Māori opposed to the Government for more than a decade.

Finally, in 1881, Tawhiao emerged and laid down the King Movement's arms and by 1883, after successful negotiations between the government and Wahanui, Rewi and Taonui, the King Country was made accessible to Europeans and opened to road surveying, but with a prohibition on alcohol throughout the district[1]. (The alcohol ban lasted until 1953 - as a young man, John A. Lee was jailed for smuggling alcohol into the area around 1910).

About this time, the Colonial Government began considering plans for a railway from Auckland to Wellington, and began to send surveyors into the King Country to look for a favourable route. Construction of the railway line began in 1885 and finished in 1908. The completion of the railway greatly improved transport and communications in the King Country and promoted settlement and farming in the area, as well as assisting in the growth of rural service towns such as Taumarunui.

Throughout the 20th century, the history of the King Country was largely uneventful, as for many areas of rural New Zealand.

The tourism industry has been promoted by the discovery of cave systems such as Waitomo.

External links

Coordinates: 38°40′0″S 175°10′0″E / 38.666667°S 175.166667°E / -38.666667; 175.166667


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